REDS boss Danny Grainger has found himself in the unenviable position of steering the football club out of the stormy waters that were 2020, but with a steadfast crew at his back and a wealth of experience, he remains focussed on the destination.

Throughout his career, Grainger has learned on the job, he said: “I wanted to coach, play, manage, you want to do everything but you have to hone your skills before you can do anything.

“That was no different when I started out as a player. I worked through the leagues, I was lucky enough to play for my hometown club.”

After cutting his teeth at clubs like Gretna FC, Hearts and Dundee United, Grainger achieved the dream he had held since childhood, of playing for Carlisle United.

“I started my career at Gretna, I had to be patient for my chance. I learnt from experience. You learn from the lads in front of you.”

He would ascend to the captaincy that same year and after an eventful career as a fan favourite and long serving skipper, he retired from competition in 2019. During his Blues run, Grainger was like a fan who achieved the ultimate dream.

Grainger’s career took a surprising turn when he took on the role as Workington AFC First Team manager in May 2019.

“Until the last few years of my career, I didn’t envisage coaching.”

Grainger admits to have fallen out of love with the idea of leading a side, but he said: “An old manager of mine, Jim Jeffries gave me the passion back.”

The former Blues skipper has again drawn on his experience in football for the new role.

He said: “There are similarities between my playing career and my managerial career.

When I look back through my career, I’ve taken different things from every manager, good and bad.”

Grainger would need that experience at his disposal as towards the end of his first season as manager at Reds, Covid-19 struck.

Workington were well on their way to conquering Division One of the Northern Premier League before the table was rendered null and void.

“I was absolutely devastated for everybody involved. We were given and unfair finish to the season, everybody else got a point per game.”

He is confident that if the season had continued, Reds would be at the head of the pack.

“We weren’t going to be beaten to the title.”

Fast-forward to winter 2020 and Reds are still seeing similar challenges.

This year’s festive games have been called-off and the NPL 2020/2021 season was paused ahead of the second national lockdown.

Grainger said: “Everything we’re going through at the minute, it’s still very frustrating. It’s something we have to get over, not just on the football side of it but as a country.”

In spite of these challenges, the culture at Workington Reds is one of positivity.

Grainger said: “Everything we do, we try and do with positivity, I’m not one to sit on a negative fence, I don’t believe in it.”

His philosophy is to move on, and live in the moment.

“Every job that you have, everything that you do in your life, you will make mistakes, why dwell on it?”

Workington will drive forward in the new year, motivated by their recent strong run of form.

“We don’t have anything that we just say, we’ll do enough. We started the season well, a very stop-start season. We just have to keep doing what we’re doing.”

As well as loyal stalwart players like Conor Tinnion, Liam Brockbank and Scott Allison, Grainger is thankful for the fans.

“I couldn’t have been luckier, the group of fans we’ve had have been brilliant. We try and keep them involved in everything.

“I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve given me in my first role as a manager.”

Acknowledging their key role in the community, Reds have been offering a helping hand. Workington AFC Foundation, a charity set up by club directors, has provided food for struggling families. On Wednesday December 23 they held a Christmas Hot Meal event where families were given the chance to meet Grainger as well as assistant manager Steve Rudd and Reds players.